© Yigal Ozeri

Yigal Ozeri: Grace, 2006
Oil on canvas, 24 x 16 inches

Realm of the Spirit

Julie Heffernan
, Lena Liv, Tony Magar, Amy Myers, Hermann Nitsch, Yigal Ozeri, Chloe Piene, Ouattara Watts

Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to announce "Realm of the Spirit", a group show featuring work by Julie Heffernan, Lena Liv, Tony Magar, Amy Myers, Hermann Nitsch, Yigal Ozeri, Chloe Piene and Ouattara Watts.

Art is the product of inspiration, and inspiration has its basis in spirituality. Throughout history human beings have used art to communicate their most profound needs and thoughts about life's greatest mysteries: death, consciousness, the nature of the universe, the moral codes that guide private and public behavior. While science, philosophy and religion have taken great strides to reconcile such matters, these questions are no less pertinent now than they were thousands of years ago. As long as there is a place for questioning, thought and discourse, so too will there be a place for art.

Artists working today are able to offer fresh and vivid perspectives on spiritual themes. Rather than supplying direct answers, contemporary art is more likely to initiate a dialogue about existence and reality and confront society's most fundamental beliefs. Featuring an international selection of artists from Africa, Austria, Israel, Italy and the United States, the artists in "Realm of the Spirit" approach the concept of spirituality from many different aesthetic and ideological angles.

Ranging from sculpture to painting and drawing, the works in this show visually combine elements that are visceral and kinetic with those that are polished and sublime. Aspects of science, culture and humanity are referenced, dissected and challenged, while notions of time, alienation, beauty and sexual gratification are brought to the forefront. In "Realm of the Spirit" the viewer is invited to contemplate the self versus a greater meaning, and to discover the various paths to spiritual enlightenment.

Julie Heffernan's densely painted self-portraits and exotic dream-like narratives convey a sublime and bizarre world full of ecstasy and awe. She presents us with a dizzying array of fruit, flowers, exotic birds, animals and foliage - all teeming with a Rococo and Baroque sense of exuberance. Heffernan's work conjures nature and history as exotic, grand and vividly unreal, leaving us to wonder about life's constant drive to reproduce, expand and develop towards greater heights.

Lena Liv creates work that explores her longstanding interest in history, identity and collective memory. Constructed from photographs, handmade paper, glass, sand, and cast-iron, Lena's installations reverberate with great expressive and emotional power. Her work envelopes the spectator in a remote, nostalgic mood in which the presence of human beings is felt through their absence. These surreal assemblages are not about one culture, time or place, but instead evoke a larger vision of humanity.

The shapes navigating through Tony Magar's compositions seem intangible, revealing a search for the spiritual amid the cosmos. His monumental abstract canvases feature bold color juxtapositions and fluid, open spaces, where biomorphic forms float in a state of perpetual flux. For Magar, the purpose of art is to lift the human spirit to its highest level, and he successfully achieves this by visually channeling the sights and sounds of nature.

Amy Myers is renowned for her meticulous, phantasmagoric paintings and works on paper. Her work consists of highly complex networks of forms and systems of activity, which refer to her thorough study and contemplation of physics, mathematics, and the forces that govern the universe. The large, symmetrical structures in her work suggest many concrete things - spaceships, ectoplasmic apparitions, sexual organs, mandalas - but remain emanations of the personal vision that generated them.

Hermann Nitsch is widely acknowledged as one of the most visionary Austrian artists and one of the founders of Austrian Actionism. Like the Abstract Expressionists, Nitsch relies on the plasticity of pigments and the corporeal connection between himself and his painting. But unlike Pollock or DeKooning, Nitsch's Actions have grown and transformed from sheer painting to omnipotent experience. They become trances, states of abstractions, and rituals. His final paintings and installations can be seen has offerings, not up to God, but to the viewer.

Yigal Ozeri is preoccupied with the human condition, and he conveys these concerns through the juxtaposition of his figures and specific architectural elements. With his vast fields of somber color and meticulous brushstrokes, Ozeri laboriously maps out a landscape of urban existential alienation with a moody and gothic sensibility. The eyes of an Ozeri painting watch us as we watch them, question us as we question them, and furthermore direct us to spaces within ourselves that we may normally otherwise overlook.

Chloe Piene's delicate, shaky-lined drawings are at once lustful, aggressive, merciless and jolly. In these ambiguous scenes we are confronted with a woman - the artist herself - often depicted half dead and alive, wrapped in sensual erotic embraces with other skeletal figures or animals. At first glance, the beautiful, elegant lines of Piene's drawings are hard to decipher. Upon further inspection, they taunt us with their neurotic, spooky corporeality.

Born in West Africa, Ouattara Watts has lived and worked in New York City for the past seventeen years. His work reflects his own multicultural identity and a lifetime of travel, and his unique iconography of imagery reaches far and wide, referencing his love of music and deep spirituality. The artist explores an extensive vocabulary of symbols and forms - linguistic, numeric, and scientific - through which he is able to communicate a transcendental and dynamic vision.

Exhibition: June 9 - August 12, 2006
Gallery hours: Tues-Sat 10am - 6pm and by appointment

Mike Weiss Gallery
520 West 24th Street
USA-New York, NY 10011
Telephone +1 212 691 6899
Fax +1 212 691 6877
Email info@mikeweissgallery.com